British NCO served with 6th Airborne Div, 1st Infantry Div and Army Education Corps in Palestine, 1946-1948. Includes readings of own poems.
REEL 1: Family background in Somerset, GB, 1926-1940. Aspects of period as pupil at Sherborne School, GB, 1940-1945: story of air raid on school; description of training and activities with Junior Training Corps; effect of war on teaching standards; opinion of teachers; effect of war on daily life in Sherborne; importance of cinema in furthering education; impact of arrival of US troops and behaviour of local girls; story of abandoned plan for evacuation to US, 1940; father's military service during First World War; story of visiting grave of uncle killed at Fricourt during First World War.
REEL 2 Continues: story of appearing before War Office Selection Board and being selected for officer training. Aspects of period of officer training in GB, 1945-1946: posted to Oriel College Oxford for Short Course; description of training and daily life in Oxford following end of war; comparison of VE and VJ Day celebrations; reaction to news of atomic bombs dropped on Japan and seeing photographs of Nazi death camps; advantage of Short Course in obtaining place at Oxford following National Service; description of further training at Winchester, Bakewell and Aldershot; reasons for requesting to be returned the ranks; story of appearance before vetting unit and assessment of mental condition; posted to Beeston, Notts. for re-training; attitude to serving in the ranks and relations with other soldiers; story of attempting to join the Army Education Corps; story of meeting actor Roger Moore; attitude of family to decision.
REEL 3 Continues: condescending attitude of some civilians to status of other ranks; opinion of conscientious objectors; description of journey to Egypt via France, 11/1946; posted to 6th Airborne Div in Gaza, Palestine. Aspects of period as NCO with 6th Airborne Div and 1st Infantry Div in Palestine, 11/1946-1947: attitude to being posted to Middle East and serving with 6th Airborne Div; story of volunteering for parachute drop; problem of being regarded as a misfit; assigned to duties in camp library; reaction to hearing anti-Semitic remark; opinion of troop's behaviour; posted to 1st Div at Netanya; description of camp; attitude to duties as clerk; problem of low morale in camp; question of tea being doctored to reduce sexual activity; story of swimming party being warned by Haganah about Irgun mine.
REEL 4 Continues: story of teaching two dyslexic soldiers; story of helping unpopular corporal with dyslexia. Aspects of period as NCO with Army Education Corps in Palestine, 1947-1948: story of introducing class of gunners to poetry; reason for starting to write poetry about experiences in Netanya; reads poem 'The Swimming Party'; description of living conditions in Camp 21; reads poem about local café; lack of political awareness in camp; story of visiting cousin, Secretary to the High Commissioner, in Jerusalem; opinion of high society and relief at returning to camp; attitude to conflict between Jews and Arabs; description of Jewish insurgent organisations; story of soldiers sleeping with guns tied to ankles; description of night raid on camp; story of visiting place where two British sergeants were hanged by Irgun; story of near miss involving land mine.
REEL 5 Continues: further comments on land mine incident; story of bomb attack on train and injuries to his students; story of Jewish nurses helping British wounded and Arabs looting their pockets; reads and comments on poems 'The Sleep of Children' and 'A Touring Party Visits the Camp'; reason for keeping poems secret until broadcast on BBC in 1970s; description of evacuation of British troops at end of mandate, 1948; reaction to noise of housing being demolished in Jerusalem; description of convoy leaving Jerusalem and outbreak of war between Jews and Arabs; attitude to outcome of war; story about Arab barber; reads poem about the end of the Mandate.
REEL 6 Continues: reads another poem about the end of the Mandate and returning to GB. Aspects of period in GB, 1948-1994: reflections on period of National Service in Middle East and effect on writing poetry; story of demobilisation and return to Oxford on government grant; story of unsuccessful attempt to return to Israel.